Head of Purdue’s civil engineering school to lead Texas A&M Engineering

Announcement of Dr. Banks as New VC&D

Dr. Margaret Katherine Banks, who currently serves as head of the School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University, has been named vice chancellor for engineering for The Texas A&M University System and dean of the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University.

Banks will also hold the Harold J. “Bill” Haynes Dean’s Chair in Engineering. She also was named as the finalist for the related position of director of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station, but action regarding that appointment requires a 21-day waiting period.

Banks’ appointment, effective Jan. 10, 2012, was confirmed by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents in a telephonic meeting today (Friday). She was selected after a national search that resulted in more than 60 nominations for the dual A&M system/university positions.

A&M System Chancellor John Sharp and Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin jointly recommended Banks’ appointment, citing her proven record of success and extensive background that includes teaching, research and administration in a variety of academic and service settings.

“We are fortunate indeed to be able to attract Dr. Banks,” Sharp said. “She brings to us a stellar academic and leadership background as well as a wealth of experience that will be highly beneficial as we continue to gain national preeminence in the field of engineering to better serve the state, nation and world.”

Loftin pointed to her service at two land-grant institutions, appointments to key governmental agencies and service in the private sector as key factors in selecting Banks to lead the university’s largest academic colleges, with more than 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The college of engineering, one of the largest engineering units of its type in the nation, ranked ninth among engineering schools at public institutions offering a doctorate, according to the latest U.S. News & World Reportrankings of the country’s undergraduate universities and programs.

“Dr. Banks has served with distinction at two land-grant institutions, so we are confident that she will excel in providing inspired leadership for our engineering programs as well as making her presence felt in a positive manner throughout the university,” Loftin said, in also citing her high national standing in the top professional organization in her field.

He also noted Banks has a proven record in the development area, having been instrumental in raising $20 million during the past six years for facilities, scholarships, fellowships, professorships and related endeavors.

Banks said she is honored to be selected and looks forward to the opportunity to serve.

“I am honored to be selected as the vice chancellor of engineering for the Texas A&M System, dean of the Dwight Look College of Engineering and as the finalist for the director of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station position,” she said. “The dedication of the Texas A&M community to excellence in research, teaching and engagement is quite remarkable. I look forward to collaborating with A&M System institutions and state agencies to develop new educational and research initiatives. As dean of the college of engineering, I am excited to work closely with the internationally recognized faculty and staff to produce a strong workforce of engineering graduates, enhance innovative research opportunities and develop new partnerships through unique engagement programs.”

She also expressed enthusiasm for working closely with two nationally and internationally renowned state agencies, also members of the A&M System and based in College Station, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) and the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX).

In addition to serving as Bowen Engineering Head for the School of Civil Engineering,  Banks currently is the Jack and Kay Hockema Professor at Purdue. She received her BSE from the University of Florida, MSE from the University of North Carolina, and PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Duke University. For her research program,  Banks has received funding from NSF, EPA, DOD, DOE, and NASA, as well as industry and state government. She served as Director of the EPA Hazardous Substance Research Center, as Associate Director of the NASA Center for Advanced Life Support, and as Co-Director of the 21st Century Center for Phytoremediation Research, all headquartered at Purdue.

Banks is the author or co-author of more than 150 journal articles, proceedings papers, book chapters and has made more than 200 scholarly or technical presentations before professional and related groups. Banks served as editor-in-chief for the ASCE Journal of Environmental Engineering and associate editor of the International Journal of Phytoremediation. She received a number of awards including the ASCE Petersen Outstanding Woman of the Year Award, ASCE Rudolph Hering Medal, Purdue Faculty Scholar Award, Sloan Foundation Mentoring Fellowship and the American Association of University Women Fellowship. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and is a licensed professional civil engineer in Indiana and Kansas.

Banks succeeds G. Kemble Bennett, who stepped down Aug. 31 after two terms of service. N.K Anand was appointed to the vice chancellor/dean positions Sept. 1 on an interim basis and will serve until Banks formally assumes office.